This document is part of the Code of Conduct for Employees resource.
Integrity – public officials should demonstrate integrity by:
(i) being honest, open and transparent in their dealings; and
(ii) using powers responsibly; and
(iii) reporting improper conduct; and
(iv) avoiding any real or apparent conflicts of interest; and
(v) striving to earn and sustain public trust of a high level.
(Public Administration Act 2004, s. 7)
3.1 Honesty at Work
Public sector employees act honestly in the performance of their duties. They are open and transparent when making decisions. They give honest advice based on available facts and data. They ensure their advice is up to date.
3.2 Using Powers at Work
Public sector employees use their power in a responsible way. They do not use their power to provide a private benefit to themselves, their family, friends or associates. They exercise power in a way that is fair and reasonable, and family or other personal relationships do not improperly influence their decisions. They respect the rights and dignity of those affected by their decisions and actions.
3.3 Financial Probity
Public sector employees observe the highest standards of integrity in financial matters and comply with the requirements of relevant financial management legislation, policies and procedures. They maintain a strict separation between work-related and personal financial matters and only use or authorise the use of public financial resources or facilities for work-related purposes.
Public sector employees with access to official information ensure it is only used for official purposes and in an approved manner. Official and personal information is handled according to relevant legislation and public sector body policies and procedures.
Public sector employees only disclose official information or documents acquired in the course of their public employment when required to do so by law, in the legitimate course of duty, when called to give evidence in court, or when proper authority has been given. In such cases comments are confined to factual information only.
Public sector employees only make public comment when specifically authorised to do so in relation to their duties, a public sector body, or government policies and programs. Such comment is restricted to factual information and avoids the expression of personal opinion. Public comment includes speaking engagements and providing information or comment through any media, including social media.
When making a comment in a private capacity, public sector employees ensure their comments are not related to any government activity that they are involved in or connected with as a public sector employee and make it clear they are expressing their own view. They ensure personal comments do not compromise their capacity to perform their public sector role in an unbiased manner, and that their comments are not seen or perceived to be an official comment.
3.6 Reporting Unethical Behaviour
Public sector employees comply with legislation, policies and lawful instructions in the performance of their work. Public sector employees report to an appropriate authority workplace behaviour that violates any law, rule or regulation, or represents corrupt conduct, mismanagement of public resources, or is a danger to public health or safety, or to the environment. Public sector employers inform their employees of their rights and responsibilities regarding the making of such reports.
A conflict of interest occurs where there is conflict between the public duty and private interests of a public official.
A conflict can be actual, potential or perceived. It may relate to circumstances where the employee is or could be directly influenced, or where it is perceived the employee might be influenced.
Public sector employees avoid conflicts of interest (actual, potential or perceived) wherever possible. They ensure their personal or financial interests (including the interests of family members, friends, or associates) do not influence and could not be perceived to influence the performance of their role.
Public sector employees declare any conflicts of interest. They manage any conflicts of interest that cannot be avoided in accordance with their organisation’s policies and procedures.
If unsure about a possible conflict of interest, public sector employees seek advice from their manager.
3.8 Other Employment
Public sector employees only engage in other employment where the activity does not conflict with their role as a public sector employee. Employment includes a second job, conducting a business, trade or profession, or active involvement with other organisations (paid employment or voluntary work). Managers or supervisors can assist public sector employees to determine if such activities will cause an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Victorian Public Service employees are required to seek approval to engage in any other paid employment.1 Other public sector employees comply with any policies of their public sector employer in relation to engaging in other employment.
3.9 Public Trust
Public sector employees seek to build and maintain a high level of trust with the Government, community and other public sector employees. In the performance of their public duties and in their private life, public sector employees avoid conduct that may adversely affect their standing as a public official or which may bring their public sector employer or the public sector into disrepute.
3.10 Criminal Offences
Public sector employees advise their manager if they are charged with a criminal offence, which is punishable by imprisonment or, if found guilty, could reasonably be seen to affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of the work they are engaged to perform.
3.11 Drugs and Alcohol
Public sector employees carry out their work safely and avoid conduct that puts themselves or others at risk. This includes the misuse of alcohol, drugs or other substances when at work or when engaged in work related activities.
The misuse of alcohol, prescribed drugs, illegal drugs and other substances is an issue for both employers and employees as it impacts on both work and personal life and in some cases the reputation of their public sector body.
Consistent with any relevant occupational health and safety requirements, public sector employees who are on medication that could affect their work performance or the safety of themselves or others inform their manager or supervisor to ensure any necessary precautions or adjustments to work can be put in place.